President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have, belatedly, apologised for the abuses by US soldiers at Abu Gharib. And while finally seeing the collectively unchecked hubris of this administration receiving a public relations wake up call is a splendid political present to those who opposed the foray into Iraq, it does nothing to help atone for our shame and prove to the rest of the world that the United States is committed to the principles of the Geneva Conventions and international criminal justice. The medicine being generally called for, swift and public courts martial for those involved in the Abu Gharib incidents and a review of the entire command and operation of combat confinement systems of the military are only localised remedies. The gravity of this situation, that American soldiers have committed War Crimes, will require more than a band aid. The most effective way to prove to ourselves and to other nations of this world that the United States will pay more than lip service to responsibilities of international law is to take the bold step of acceding to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. If the Bush administration, as it claims, will prosecute all soldiers accused of violating US and international law to the fullest extent, than their usual bemoaning of the ICC’s infringement of sovereignty will never be raised. The ICC can only exercise jurisdiction if State Parties will or cannot properly try their accused citizens. If one is to believe Mssrs Bush and Rumsfeld, this will never happen. That is the administrations commitment to our citizens, our forces and our fellow nations, and there can be no more courageous way to make that ring true and help repair some of the havoc we’ve wreaked on our own morals than signing onto the Rome Treaty.
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